Two new “strange” minerals, never before seen in nature, were found inside a giant 15-ton meteorite that fell in Somalia near the town of Al-Ali.
They are called elaliite and elkinstantonite, and they can reveal important clues about the formation of asteroids, the researchers explain inCanadian University of Alberta at the 2022 Space Exploration Symposium.
The two new minerals were found along with a possible third candidate in a 70-gram sample from the African meteorite, which measures two meters in diameter and is currently the ninth largest in the world.
The sample was sent to the Canadian university to allow classification of the meteorite: analyzes highlighted the presence of two new minerals, which the researchers immediately recognized as having the same composition as synthetic minerals already created in the laboratory in the 1980s.
The first mineral, “elaliite,” took its name from the city of the Most High, near which the meteorite was found. The second mineral, elkenstantonite, is instead assigned to the planetary realm Lindy Elkins Tantonresponsible for the Psyche mission during which NASA intends to explore a metallic asteroid.
According to scientists, other unpublished minerals could be discovered if other fragments of the great Al-Ali meteorite were analyzed, which in the meantime had already been transported to China in search of a potential buyer. However, investigations into the available sample continue to try to reconstruct the conditions under which the asteroid from which the meteorite broke off could have formed.
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